CBS Greases Wheels for Democratic Attack on 'Big Oil'

     “The IRS is a lapdog for the American taxpayer, failing to audit some 80 percent of Americans who are expected to pay taxes on the honor system, says one lawmaker.”

     Imagine hearing that from a news reporter on CBS’s evening newscast. It’s laughable at best, infuriating at worst because it presumes most Americans are tax cheats.

    Now substitute “oil companies” and “MMS” for “Americans” and “IRS” and you have correspondent Armen Keteyian’s December 4 “Evening News” biased swipe at the oil industry.

     “Almost every time a company drills for oil and gas” on federal land, it’s supposed to pay a royalty a form of tax for the privilege to extract a natural resource, Keteyian informed viewers.

     But “CBS News has learned from a congressional source” that “the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, or MMS, only audits about 20 percent of the companies. The rest of the time the payments are actually made on the honor system,” the reporter complained.    

     “The Department of Interior doesn’t see itself as a watchdog, it sees itself as a lapdog for the oil and gas industry,” Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) complained to Keteyian.

     Democrats “plan aggressive investigations come January,” Keteyian later noted as he closed his report from the news desk of CBS’s Washington bureau.


     While an investigation by the Interior Department’s inspector general is turning up some legitimate concerns about the auditing staff’s mismanagement, Keteyian made clear he thought the real bad guy was oil companies, not incompetent bureaucrats.

     “The sense is that the MMS is just in bed with the oil and gas industry when it comes to accounting and auditing,” Keteyian told Interior official C. Stephen Allred.

     At no point in his story did Keteyian provide any statistics or studies that attacked specific cases of oil company malfeasance or fraud, nor did he turn to an oil or gas industry spokesman for a rebuttal of Markey’s swipe at the industry.